rashbre central: 2020

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Free eBooks by Ed Adams


Here we are, a couple of the Ed Adams novels available for free eBook download.
Click on either cover to start the free Ebook download process and join my Readers' List.


Simply put, there's two series:

The Triangle Trilogy comprises:

  • The Triangle: Money laundering within an international setting.
  • The Square: A viral nerve agent being shipped by terrorists and WMDs
  • The Circle: In the Arizona deserts, with the Navajo; about missiles stolen from storage.

They introduce characters Jake, Clare, Bigsy, Chuck Manners.

The Archangel Trilogy comprises:

  • Archangel: Biographical adventures of Russian agent who threads her way through other Triangle novels.
  • Raven: Big business gone bad and being a Freemason won't absolve you
  • Raven's Card: Tarot inspired when Russian oligarchs attempt control

More from 'The Triangle' characters, but also with Christina Nott as the Archangel agent.

There's a plenty of London scenes because I've worked and lived in London for years and it seems like a natural place to write about.

I've also travelled extensively for work and so European cities, the Middle East, the USA and Russia feature as well holiday roams (so far) around Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico (ie The Square).

Not forgetting the corridors of SI6 and GCHQ.

Oh, and the fabulous Iceland, because that's where I was on holiday before the Great Lockdown.  Whoever would have thought that Christina Nott was Icelandic?

Don't be shy, click either cover (or both!)


Thursday, 2 July 2020

crushed by the wheels of industry



It's reduced to symbols now. Optics to build or destroy power bases. Buffoons splodging through the photo ops, distracting from the real stories. Boris has latched on to Trumpian copycat redirection and direct use of social media. The man who knows too much about Boris is pulling all the strings and merely hinting about Russian influence, philandering and oh so much more. Slush and sleaze. It makes olden days monochrome wooden technocrats seem positively dull.

Meanwhile Boris copies prior politicians by spending his way out of a corner. All those years of austerity and then a single splurge to spend more from the public purse than a whole year of British output. Don't waste a good crisis, eh? ERG members are lining up to line their pockets.

Work all day or work all night, it's all the same
(Work the same)
Will we ever change
It's vocation or vacation
Some are workers, some are not
It is (time for a party)
Syncopation for the nation now

(Chorus)

Work, ha
Work, ha
Now




Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Apple chipper A12Z


I see Apple is about to change chips again. They seem to be quite good at it, although there are a few application casualties along the wayside.

I transitioned from the PowerPC to Intel back in the day and the machines hardly missed a beat. I still have, in a plastic crate, a PowerPC 17 inch MacBook Pro (matt screen) which occasionally runs old legacy device updates (Guitar EPROMs and TV hand controllers mainly). It just works.

I did the compatibility check and realised the processor shifts generate the biggest Mac purchase cycles for Apple. Unlike PCs, Macs don't degrade to slow imbeciles full of registry errors after about 20 months.

When the last Mac Pro was released, they included a diagram of the chip architecture with it, which I thought was unusual for Apple, but I guess they were positioning for the A12Z ARM processor. As far as I can see, it is a variant of the iPhone X processor, which is, itself intriguing. Nowadays everyone is building SoC (Systems on a Chip) which cuts down the distances that electrons have to travel. A nanosecond is about 30 cm/1 foot.

The big difference between the A12X in an iPhone and the one to be used in an iMac seems to be the transistor count, which goes from 6.9 billion to 10 billion. Current Intel are at about 2.8billion in the i7 Kaby Lake processor. Apple also switched on all of the Graphics Processing Units, which were partly disabled on the phone - I guess it relates to battery life or diminishing returns? They are also using the same idea of two sets of processor cores, with Vortex running at 2.4GHz for the big work and Tempest for the high-efficiency tasks and this time they have put 4 of each core onto the chip, so it is a sort of jumbo-sized iPhone X processor in the new Mac.

It is also interesting to look at the new diagramming as an illustration of master-class marketing. Show the things you want to - don't give them anything to count which could backfire - so no mention of the multiple processors in the new diagram.

I followed my own instincts when I originally started using Apple years ago ('it just works' era) and stayed fairly close to their product sets for most tasks. The stuff in the box did most of the average domestic chores. I slid away over the years and now have substantial Adobe and some Microsoft product set in use. It is curious though, that the Millenial-influenced design drift is from the mobile world onto the big screen, with systems like Catalyst to enable porting of iPad/iPhone apps to the Mac.

I hope it won't be a reminder of what happened when Apple changed Final Cut by adding the word 'Pro' and removing about half of the features, including for a time the ability to support plug-ins.

The average reporter dialled into the Apple jamboree will be saying what they've been told to say about how the Arm chips will inherit abilities built into Apple's A-Series chips for iPhones and iPads. We just don't want that to become a mantra or a box-in. 'Make it a feature not a bug,' as the ancient IBM Marketing manual reads.

The hidden challenge will come with the likes of Photoshop, InDesign and other dual-platformed software(ie Mac/PC). Writing for the clean lines of Big-Sur Safari and the needs of someone editing bleed-lines on a preprint image might create a few challenges. I suppose the Siri command "Macintosh make it so," might be the ultimate answer. I guess we will be hearing more of Clang compilers and Rosetta emulation again, probably on these little 'at cost' boxes.

So now I'm looking at two hardware cycles again. First to be able to run anything at all on Big-Sur and then to be able to transition to ARM processors.

Maybe I should buy some buy Apple shares as a fundraiser? And when will California run out of landmarks to use as codenames?

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Roberta


At the start of the latest book, Archangel: Raven's Card, I needed to plant the Tarot deck, so I decided I'd use the fortune teller Roberta from Raven, the previous book in the trilogy. Roberta had given Christina a flyer advertising her next show. An obvious place for the two of them to meet. Except it meant I'd have to devise Roberta's stage show...

[Archangel: Raven's Card = Pages 14-20]
Roberta

Christina was in the dark, underground vaults at Waterloo station waiting to see Roberta, the fortune teller.

Christina had originally visited Roberta in the Boxpark, where Roberta had a small gallery, and Roberta had given Christina some spirited advice, which had been useful when trying to understand the Raven situation.

Now Christina was standing in a crowded, bohemian bar, lit by fairy lights and waiting for Roberta's show to begin. They were all called through to a small black room, with rows of chairs arranged along the back wall. A black curtain marked the edges of a stage area.

With a flash of smoke, Roberta appeared as a pirate queen. Long, flowing brunette hair, a white bodice pulled tight with a leather corset and thigh-length leather boots. She carried a dangerous-looking sword which glinted in the spotlights.

"Of course you would," thought Christina.

Roberta winked when she spotted Christina in the audience of about forty people. She flashed the sword through the air and a pirate flag appeared. She held the sword aloft, and the flag rose above the point of the sword, then fluttering down where it cut into halves. Then, suddenly, the two halves became bats fluttering upward.

A woman behind Christina screamed.

"The next one to scream will see me use my pistol," she cried and as suddenly as the bats appeared, a flintlock pistol was now in Roberta's hand.

She holstered the weapon and slapped her thigh, in good pantomime style.

"Imagine two ships, she said, A tall galleon and a smaller frigate. The smaller frigate holds the pirates. The tall galleon has a larger crew but is slow.

At that moment a back-projection appeared. On the left was a galleon and on the right was a frigate.

"What type of audience do we have tonight? Are they King's supporters or Pirates? Think hard about this. Which ship do you want to win?"

…And so the storytelling continued, of pirates, wreckers all along the coasts of Cornwall and Devon and then some stories from the Spanish Main.

"… Who is for this King's ship? Point to the ship. And who is for the Pirates? Now you point. And you that have not pointed, you will feel the anger of the sea."

There were several shouts from around the audience, some of whom were being soaked with jets of water.

"Come here," said Roberta to one of the people who had screamed, "For you must face my pistol."

Roberta pulled the female audience member still wearing her raincoat forward.

"Stand still," she said and pointed the flintlock pistol.

There was a loud crack and glitter fell from the ceiling. A gasp from the audience as her victim's coat swept away, revealing a pirate costume.

"Now sit yourself down and behave," said Roberta, "But look at the ships. The King's ship survives. The pirate ship is burning. We cannot spare the souls of the pirates. It will become a ghost ship."

There was a scraping of chairs and three others of the audience stood. They each had bedraggled pirate costumes and grey skins.

"Look, for we have new ghosts tonight."

"And now, a song."

Roberta used a flourish to produce a black and silver ukulele. She played and sang Pirate Jenny - The Black Freighter.

…" And now, the chorus," she sang.

"And the ship, the black freighter
With the skull at the masthead
Sails into the bay"


And later "…another chorus…"

"And the ship, the black freighter
With fifty long cannons
Opens fire on the town"


She sang the verses of the song and then, "…this time the chorus…"

"And the ship, the black freighter
Runs a flag up her masthead
And cheer rings the air"


And, after a rousing ukelele solo, "… And we all go down together…" Roberta winked to Christina,

"And the ship, the black freighter
Sails away out to sea
And on it is me"


The pirates in the audience clapped and cheered and the rest of the audience followed.

"That's Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for you," said Roberta.

"Tonight, I've been Pirate Jenny - the Pirate Queen - and thank you all!"

She carved her sword through the air. The pirate ships vanished and a full stage-width pirate flag appeared and fell to the floor.

More applause. Christina clapped enthusiastically. Roberta knew how to work it.

The audience filed out. Christina realised that these were short sets, in a 'Fringe-style' set up. A chance to get a taste of the performer rather than an extended show.

A tap on her shoulder. "You came along! - Christina? Isn't it? - I remember you - from the land of the ice and snow!"

Christina smiled, "Yes, a great show. How do you do those clever things with the sword?"

"I may have told you some trade secrets, but a magician never tells," answered Roberta, "Come on, a drink at the bar?"

"Sure," said Christina.

They found two seats at the bar and ordered two Sol beers, complete with lime.

"Did you find your ship of fools?" asked Roberta.

"Actually, I did," said Christina, "And I found out a lot of other things that I can link back to our conversation in the Boxpark."

"That's great," said Roberta, "I'm still there, you know, hanging on by good fortune!"

"Plus, this act, terrific," said Christina.

"Yes, and that's before you see our regular theatre show "Busy" or even see me serving in The Pure Ground - it's a coffee shop."

"Were those some of the actors?" asked Christina.

"Yes, and Celine from the coffee bar - they come along to support me. I can't properly pay them, but we all help one another out with our solo projects."

"Look - after the last time we met, I wished I'd given you something," said Roberta.

"What's that?" asked Christina, intrigued.

"Well, you had natural abilities - we talked about it then - I think I have something in my bag. Wait, a moment."

"This isn't another magic trick where I get squirted with water? " asked Christina.

Roberta fiddled with the catch of a small bag. It was like a miniature-sized suitcase.

"Don't look inside," she said, "You'll spoil the magic."

Christina looked away.

Then, Roberta produced with a flourish, "Ta-da!" she said.

Christina looked puzzled. "What is it?"

Stacked on the bar was something small. It looked like playing cards.

"It's Rider Waite, " she said, "Tarot. These are the real deal. Look…draw two cards."

Christina fingered through the deck, looking at the backs of the cards and pulled two.

"Place one by you and one by me."

She did as she was asked and placed them on the bar.

"Now turn them over."

By Roberta was the Magician, by her The High Priestess.

"I knew it. You have the power. You pulled two of the most powerful cards from the Major Arcana - for me, the Magician, for you, The High Priestess, signifying Intuition and Wisdom. Together for you these two represent Willpower, Creation, Mastery, Adaptation, and Divine Truth. They are the powers of an Archangel."

Roberta smiled, "Take them. Take this deck of cards, This Tarot belongs to you. It is telling me to give them up. It has found its owner."

Christina smiled. She kissed Roberta on both cheeks.

"Robert/Roberta. Thank you."



Saturday, 20 June 2020

Hekla


I've almost finished Ed Adams: Card Game, the sequel to Raven...Extract from Page 116 - Cover design to follow:

"I like to think I carry some of Iceland with me when I travel," said Hekla, reverting to English.

Christina noticed she had an American accent when she spoke English.

"So how is it you decided to come to London?" asked Christina still thinking of Hekla as a country-girl.

"Well, a lot happens in these many years," she said, "But I realise that with my travelling I have only ever been through London, never stopped in it."

"Travelling?" asked Christina, intrigued.

"Yes, I know you have got around 'Christina Nott' - and well, so have I."

"Tell all," said Christina.

"Let's get a drink first," said Hekla, "We can charge them to my room."

"Okay, but I will want to show you London at some point!" said Christina.

They ordered two cocktails, chinked the glasses and said "skál."

"Right, well, a lot happened to me after you left 'forever' to go to Russia," said Hekla, "I must admit I was sad for several months after you had gone. But then Geir and Hanna moved in and I had some new playmates."

"Did you tell them about the wool-store?" asked Christina.

"Of course, it was big news to a small farm-girl. I elaborated the story and added some rockets and guns into the picture. Geir was most impressed. The strange thing was, we went to explore it, but it was empty. Just some wool bundles tied up in a heap."

"Ahah," smiled Christina, "Have you heard of deep cover?"

"No, but seriously, was your father a spy?" asked Hekla, sipping at her drink.

"What do you think?" said Christina, "Sure he flew jet planes when he was younger and so there was always some gossip following him around. But think of it; he was running a farm. D'you remember, after you fell through the roof and we went to find him? What was he doing? Painting the water trough for the sheep. Now that's what a super spy would be doing, like James Bond."

Hekla smiled, and Christina noticed several of the men around the bar area look over to her. She had an ability to light up the room.

"What happened after the playmates?" asked Christina.

"Well, to cut a long story short, I discovered the Americans."

"Hekla!?"

"Well Geir became old enough to drive and would give me lifts into Reykjavik. We hung out around the Laugavegur and down by the Solfar - you know the Sun Voyager ship."

"Er - I haven't had my mind erased," said Christina, "although you sound like a Lattelepjandi miðbæjarrotta!"

Hekla laughed, " I see your grasp of gutter Icelandic hasn't diminished! Although we didn't think of ourselves as latte-sipping city centre rats, more as fágun - sophisticates!"

"It was easy to meet new people there too. The Americans would come off-base and their entire chat-up line consisted of "What are Icelandic women like?"

They had all been given the same spiel about Icelandic women. You know the one about beautiful Icelandic women - there always seems to be quite a large number of foreign men that just hear the words 'beautiful Icelandic women', which they automatically translate to 'sexy Icelandic women' but don't seem to listen when words like 'strong, independent and feminist Icelandic women' come up."

"I became quite practiced at the art of men swatting. One of my friends around this time was an athlete. We'd sit together for a chat in a cafe and get hit on about a dozen times. She went in for the Olympics and for a laugh did Miss Iceland. It was incredible that no-one in the press and media picked up on her athletics. They all just focused on her beauty."

"Such difficult problems, being a hot female in Iceland!" smiled Christina.

"Well, it was different with Icelandic men. Icelandic men are supportive and respectful. If something needs doing, they expect women to be able to do it just as well as them. Icelandic men expect women to be able to hold their own doors open, and pay for their own drinks."

"I've missed all of this by living in a very macho country through my formative years," smiled Christina.

"But hey, it seems that we've both turned out all right," said Hekla.

"So, what is this about Americans then?"

"Well, I finally succumbed to one of them. He was sitting alone in a cafe on Laugavegur - Sandholt's to be precise - he was reading a book and I had to sit at the table next to him. I could see the book was in English and that every time he got to the end of a page, he would look up at me before continuing. So, I asked him if it was any good.

"Well, that stopped him in his tracks. He mumbled something and then said he wasn't sure yet. He'd only read the first few pages and had not been properly concentrating.

"' Here it comes' I thought, He is going to lay down a line now."

"Well. He didn't. Instead, I asked him why he looked so unhappy."

"He snapped around a bit when I said that, but then he admitted that he was new in town and it wasn't like he was expecting. He'd come over from Texas, which I thought of as all oil wells and - well - like that Dallas show on television - but he said he was from San Angelo and had been transferred from Goodfellow Air Force Base."

"It didn't mean anything to me, but he carried on anyway. He said most people thought of Texas with oil wells and cowboy hats and big shoulders, but the part he was from was a rural farming area. His family farmed sheep and goats.

"I was somewhat surprised by this. I had never even thought about Americans farming anything as small as sheep and goats. Especially in Big Texas. Buffalo, yes, horses and cattle, but sheep and lambs?"

"So, he was a sheep boy, then."

"Stop it. Anyway, he introduced himself as Daniel Williams, and said he was a pilot. He flew the little jets that the Americans use. F-15s I think they are called. He said that he had been transferred to either Iceland or England, but he thought England would be too intense for him. He was part of some kind of NATO swap."

"He doesn't sound like fly-boy material?" suggested Christina.

"Yes, that was the thing, I expected him to be all Tom Cruise in Top Gun, but he was much quieter."

"Well, that's how I got to know him some more. He didn't have a good chat-up line, seemed a bit depressed, but had some potential as a fighter pilot."

"In other words, a Project?" asked Christina, "I do and don't like the sound of this."

"Well, you might not know that the Americans moved out of Keflavik a few years ago, but then, after a few Russian submarines circled Iceland and some of their planes flew around, Iceland decided to invite America back, but as part of some kind of NATO deal. Danny had to go on 'patrol rotations' which seemed to cover an awfully large area."

"Let me guess…You took him to look around the farm and pet the animals?" asked Christina, smiling.

"Ooooh. You are so mean... still ...I love it!" laughed Hekla, "That is exactly what I did. He had a car and could drive me to and from Reykjavik, and -well- we sort of fell in love."

"Hekla! - Nooo. Is he 'The One'?"

Christina looked at Hekla's fingers. A few Icelandic rings, but no obvious sign of marriage. She asked, "What did your parents think? Your dad could be quite fierce."

"Yes, he was to begin with, but then Mamma could see that we were smitten with one another and helped persuade Pabbi."

"Oh, it's so good to hear certain words like Mamma and Pabbi again," said Christina.

"Yes, there were also some practical aspects to consider. Danny had been driving back and forth from Keflavik, but now he could stay over without Pabbi getting emotional about it."

"Scusi me, ladies, my fren' and I were wondering if we could join you at this table?" came an Italian accent.

"No," chorused both Christina and Hekla, and then Hekla went on to add, "We are waiting for our boyfriends."

"Perfect, man-swatting," said Hekla, "Just like in Laugavegur!"

"So, is he the one?" asked Christina persisting.

"It all went wrong about a year ago," answered Hekla.

"His tour of Iceland finished, and he was due to go back to the USA, to his home base. He asked me to come with him."

"I wasn't sure, if I'm honest, and the thought of an adventure in Texas was the biggest pull. Danny was up there in my thoughts, but I worried that he was too much focussed on flying to the exclusion of all else. It was like he had a manic state. Something that I'd seen in that very first encounter in Sandholt's."

"I met his family. They were not what I'd expected. They were very loud, warm and affectionate, not at all like Danny. They lived on the farm and had dozens of friends and neighbours. Despite the Texan distances, it wasn't like the solitude that we had around Sprengisandsleið. And it was very hot."

"Danny and I had arrived without a plan, although everyone expected that we were (a) engaged (b) would get married in a big showy ceremony and (c) start having lots of children.

" 'Danny introduce us to the little lady, will you,' was a common request. My mind was starting to explode.

"They had a gun culture too. Everyone had a gun. The women carried small Derringer pistols - they called them Texas Defenders and even the teenager girls had pink pistols. Imagine buying a Glock handgun in 'Prison Pink'? That's exactly what one of Danny's sisters did!

"They wanted me to shoot weapons too; they didn't know about us on the farm and what we used to get up to. Christina. I think you were the best shot, but I was pretty good too.

"They took me out to a range near to their homestead. The targets were static and laughably close. I borrowed one of the brother's hunting rifles, it was quite like one of ours, but made to look like a carbon fibre boy's toy. Then I shot a double."

"Two bullets through the same hole?" asked Christina.

"Yes," said Hekla, "Some skills don't go away."

"They didn't believe it of course, and thought I'd missed with the second shot. Then they looked at the target paper. Oval hole. Two grease rings. A confirmed double."

She sighed, "They called it beginner's luck, so I said I'd try again. Remember this is over such short distances as well. Pause, listen to heart rate, breathe, Tak-Tak. I admit to certain relief when I realised I'd done it again."

The men didn't like it. Danny was different, but they saw it that a random foreigner had somehow done something that they all attempted unsuccessfully. And done it twice. I was now noted as a strong woman. I think Iceland has a history of strong women, since the women would have to stay at home while the men went out at sea and then the women had to completely take care of their farms on their own. Take care of the animals, do repairs, take care of the kids, clean, cook etc - and often their husbands and/or sons would die at sea, so they'd be left to continue on their own.

"Well, in Amer—i—cay, or in this part, the women may be strong, but they keep it to themselves. I kept getting referred to as 'my little lady' and 'ma'am' when I went out anywhere. No one meant anything by it, but it did stick in the claw.

"And the women folk had a lot of questions for me about children. Was I going to have a big family with Danny? They were questions I was not ready to answer.

"Danny's family were also Evangelical Protestants. I went to the church with Danny and his family one time at a place called Lakewood. It was like a weekend break. We drove for about six hours to stay in a motel, then went to the church. It was massive. Like some kind of rock stadium. I think it seated over 50,000 people - and that was every week.

"The guns, the church, the heat, the massive family. It was too much for me. I had to tell Danny and then leave him. To be honest, I think, when I did, that he was relieved. I don't think he'd thought any of it through and the pressures from home were cutting in on him. I sometimes think it improved his status there in Texas, bringing back a foreign girl-friend but then 'seeing the light' and picking someone else from local stock."

"And you know something, I was flooded with relief when I sat on the runway on the way back to Iceland. It was such a tangible feeling, like a whole episode had drained away and I could start to behave normally again.

"So I decided, all in all, it seems that Iceland is the best place in the world for women to live and work, and I can taste the difference in the air each time I come back to Iceland after having spent some time abroad."

Christina smiled, and Hekla continued, "I don't know exactly what it is, maybe it's the fact that there's no cat-calling on the streets, or that in the office where I work there's pretty much a 50/50 of men and women, or that it doesn't take more than 'no thank you' to shake off a guy that's hitting on you if you're not interested."

Hekla paused, sipped her drink and then continued, "I think it's all the little things. The fact that you go to a protest march and you see your little cousins there. And your friend's parents. Or that when the presidential elections take place, half of the candidates are female - and that fact isn't blown up. It just, is. And if you're walking down the street and some mother is breastfeeding her kid, nobody takes notice of it."

Christina smiled, Hekla was as intense and lovable as she had been when they played together as small children. She'd found a few new causes and gained some worldview too, Christina had expected her to be a child of Iceland but she realised that Hekla was an Icelandic woman of the world.

"But hey, Christina, I can see you are toned like an athlete- the way you move is like a cat - you are as elegant as anyone in the room and clearly cosmopolitan. You'll have to tell me about your last few years!"

"You'd never believe it, " answered Christina and started to pour out her edited highlights.



Thursday, 18 June 2020

ambiguous


Boris is waving his hands around again, this time pretending to renegotiate the new arrangements with the EU. Jacob and Co will be pleased with this folly, knowing that the idea of a crash-out is becoming more certain by the day. "Yes, Boris, you talk about feta cheese and champagne. Why not repaint a jet plane in British colours to show how separate you feel we are?"

As Ursula Von der Leyen told MEPs on Wednesday: “We are now halfway through these negotiations. But we’re definitely not halfway through the work to reach an agreement. With little time ahead of us we’ll do all in our power to reach an agreement.”

Pop-up Whack-a-Mole* Gove gets the Brexit negotiations then? We've already burnt half of the remaining time but are only about 5-10% along the discussions.

Now it is his turn to be ambiguous, with talk of 'Tabling' an agreement. Do I hear buzzer sounds?

Yes, Gove has picked one of those words that had dual meanings. In American English, as spoken widely on the continent, 'tabling' an amendment means binning it. Gove will claim he means the British thing, of course, but it illustrates that he is not match-fit for a negotiation. I see the FT has slyly put it in quote marks in their report.

*North American derivation

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

discerning readership


There is at least some interest in my recent novel "Raven" even if it is from a baby crow.

Friend Caroline took this picture and I'm speculating that the crow was attracted to the silhouette shape of the Raven on the cover?

Caw, it's a cracking picture.

Monday, 15 June 2020

slippery


I listened to David Lammy this morning, voicing similar sentiments to my own about the latest squelches from the vapid toshmonger.

“Black people aren’t playing victim, as Boris indicates, they’re protesting precisely because the time for review is over and the time for action is now,” Lammy told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I don’t know why he’s announced a commission behind a paywall in the Telegraph, buried in yet another article about Churchill. If he was serious, why are there no details about how it will be staffed, its remit, its terms of reference, its timetable?

It almost certainly was written on the back of a fag packet yesterday, to glorify the apparent action by the government, whilst cynically generating yet another committee to kick issues into the long grass.

As Lammy said, "Legislate. Move. You’re in government – do something.”

Lammy added: “I made 35 specific limit recommendations in the Lammy review. Implement them. There are 110 recommendations in the Angiolini review into deaths into police custody. Implement them. There are 30 recommendations in the Home Office review into the Windrush scandal. Implement them. There are 26 in Baroness McGregor-Smith’s review into workplace discrimination. Implement them. That’s what Boris has to do. And then the Black Lives Matter protests can stop and we can get on with dealing with coronavirus.”

The slippy Clown wants a culture war to distract from the central issue.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

rendering misdirection


I've travelled around virtual London on Zwift a few times and aside from the street logic being slightly strange, there's an impressive amount rendered accurately in the graphics.

They have optimised the public realm, by not rendering statues or by simply turning them into various Zwift icons, like squirrels and people on bicycles.

Now, the real London is starting to get the treatment. Outside Parliament, they have put a steel box around Sir Winston Churchill, and the Cenotaph, whilst simultaneously appealing to people not to visit London to protest.

With most of the statues in London, one already has to run Plus/Minus/Interesting thoughts, a la Edward de Bono. It's a shame that similar criteria are not being applied to the sorry collection of senior politicians supposedly guiding the country.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

active duty?


Other people pointed out that those policing the streets in America didn't appear to have badge numbers or names. I looked at another picture and see that they are right.

Anonymous soldiers repurposed for the use of the State. Bunker Boy is taking a big leap if he's doing that. It's the kind of thing written about in fiction, where, say, a Black Ops unit is dispatched to a foreign country to create some mischief.

I'd not thought that it could happen on America's own shores, but then, I didn't write that episode of the Simpsons back in 1990 when Homer dreamt that Trump was president.

And if it doesn't go his way, he summarily fires people. Even the Pandemic Response Team were replaced with Jared Kuschner.

Over on Instagram, people have been posting a black picture, a black square, as a form of protest, whilst there is the hypocrisy of the manchild inside church whispering to his wife to smile for the camera.

Kudos to Barack Obama for creating his strongly-worded town hall on television and Obama with Bush, Carter and Clinton showing a unified face of revulsion at what has been happening.

James Mattis, who served as President Trump's first defense secretary, excoriated the president urging Americans to "reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution," and “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,”

Now we get current defense secretary Mark Esper, "I say this not only as secretary of Defense but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations," he added. "We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."

Stayin' Alert.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Stay Elite


We've flicked over to the mad Emporer stage in the USA now, with the so-called President using tear gas and military force to clear an area so that he can emerge from his bunker to hold up a Bible whilst using a riot-proofed Episcopal church as a background prop for a photo-opportunity. Then he can spout about the 'terrorists' taking away 2nd Amendment (ie gun control) rights.

Virtual Reality?

He still uses short words and repetition, because his streetside-education serves well when talking to voters who like to hear about bad and very, very bad things so they know what to do. Like Michael Jackson, he's got bad times three now. Bad, angry citizens, Bad health with the pandemic, Bad economy.

It is more subtle here in the UK. Boris might not be using guns and strong arms yet, but he is just as proficient at the media manipulation. It becomes difficult to explain that a 5 bar warning system from 5=Dangerous Red to 1=All clear Green, is only being used occasionally. If I use the definitions it provides, I see that sports events return when we reach 1. But sports have returned. And shops and offices re-open with social distancing is level 2.

But I thought we were still at Level 4 and that the Committee that presides over the 1 to 5 dials hadn't yet been formed? I get the feeling that the daily statistics have been turned into a positive spinathon, driven by the need to reduce Government's spending and a wish to suppress some of the worst of the news. Matt Hancock carries spin with a worried expression, unlike the sly mastery of Gove and Bojo, who can effortlessly spin anything. Specious Gove presumably asks "Which way are we kicking?" before he goes to the podium, just to make sure.

Now we can watch Jacob, the Edwardian lounge lizard, coax Parliament back to house-sittings from its socially-distanced arrangement. He can hardly recognise the place, although his comfy chaise-longue is still there. He's worried about the loss of control with all that 21st-century virtualisation. Heaven forbid that the House modernise. Even the House of Lords has decided to go virtual - although it is not clear how the daily expense claims will work. Virtualisation won't happen on Jacob's watch. It will be far better to be able to doughnut the Prime Minister with a lot of Hawing Etonians to shove legislation through.

Jazza's main game is still concluding Brexit - his friends have so much money riding on it. At the last count, it was about £8bn of private bets made via sporting houses like Somerset Capital Management - where Jazza Rees-Dodgy has an interest.

But now we are down to the last seven months, it will be impossible to resolve a deal in the remaining time. Jazza needs the theatre of a House to bring through whatever variant of a crash out is currently mooted. Ker-Ching.

Of course, since Dominic has been whizzing around the country, many others have thought it's okay to travel.

I notice that the media didn't spot that Dominic is a part-owner of that place he went to bunker down with his family, and no-one mentioned that his dad must have been living in a second home because the main one is the slightly eccentric Chillingham Castle a bit further north.

How the non-elite live? Just like the rest of us.

I thought to move to a second home wasn't permitted under government guidelines, but I suppose if the spare home has been built without planning permission and doesn't pay council tax, then it is technically in an elite rule-free-zone. Passports to Pimlico, anyone?

But all this rule-breaking would account for the traffic jams on the M3. No, I wasn't in them and I realise I haven't been on a motorway for 10 weeks. Just a few local shopping trips. Fortunately around here is nowhere near as crowded as, say, Bournemouth, although a few locals returned from Exmouth the other day, put off by the crowds.

And I've only watched the big beach fights on television, not actually witnessed any of them.

traffic patterns in London

I see that London is still light on cars, leading to an increase in cycling, which should be a good thing. Now we need to figure out the best way to stop bicycles being stolen when left in the street.

Stay Alert.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

scuttle award


There's a big black spider that lives behind the back gatepost. Every tie I go through the gate it comes out to have a look and then scuttles back away again. Even when I water the sunflowers, but I think that must be the water hitting the web.

I wonder how big a spider has to be before it gets awarded the verb 'scuttles'? Anyway, this one is big enough.

Then there are the spiders that have started cocooning the car. Okay, so it hasn't been anywhere recently. The spiders have woven webs between the driver door and the ground. I wouldn't expect them to catch much there if truth be told.

And as for the mirror.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

The Robo Vac ate my power cord


We've all heard about that dog. The one that ate the homework.

Sometimes the excuses need sprucing up or modernising.

Like the RoboVac ate my power cord so I couldn't log on.

(sadly true, although it didn't happen to me)

Sometimes it's the long and complicated excuses that don't seem as realistic.

But then, making up excuses when under immense stress must be difficult.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

just checking?


Toy car, 1/24th scale, for illustrative purposes only

Maybe I need this for my novel writing? If I wanted to check someone's whereabouts and they had been driving a car, I wonder if any of the roadside technology would be of assistance.

For example, Could the authorities tell when the car left London and re-entered it, by the Congestion Charge cameras?

If I wanted to see whether the car had gone further afield, could the authorities use the green ANPR cameras (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)? I notice that they don't store the numbers unless there is, say, a missing road tax or another transgression.

There's also a set of traffic management cameras on Motorways; how long do they retain their data and how smart is it? (for example, would it know a Volvo or a Range-Rover?

It's a little more tricky to cross-check the phone records, because the mobile phone would be accessing so many masts on a long journey. However, the call log could provide the relevant information, by illustrating where the call originated, although I'm guessing that it is an infringement of human rights to use such data?

Verschränkung thought experiment


I've decided that we are all living in a quantum paradox now. We've known for ages that the internet was made of catz, which may or may not be a uzable fact. And that most of these government guidelines are open to interpretation. If they have gaudy chevrons around them then they are a quantum superposition. Or are they?

The very architect of many of the snappy one-liners is the perfect exponent of the flat-pack excuse. He's loading a few more (slightly lumpy ones) into his car for another extensive trip in this picture. Or is he?

But Dominic Schroedinger Cummings has other quantum thoughts. He can be in London and Durham at the same time. And he can make an integer number of trips back and forth along the A1, where restrictions in range functions can best be expressed by a formula.

I know what you are thinking. It's an inverse square, isn't it? There might even be a law about that kind of thing. It does bring in imaginary numbers, which is something I'm sure Mr Gove would expertly discuss.

But maybe these thought journeys are like the visible states of the Prime Minister, random subatomic events that may or may not occur? Is he in Number 10 or not? Is he Taking Back Control or not?

As well as cats, social media must be woven by spiders with all that world-wide-web around the place. It leads to another of Schrödinger's thoughts -

Entanglement.

Stay alert.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

boats back in the water


Well if it has to be lock-down then at least we have good weather for it. Even the boats are being put back into the water now, and the end of the car park is bustling with a tractor and a big crane. The black swans have returned.

In the town, there's still social distancing in full-swing and some of the shops have re-invented themselves and are selling different products. I just polished off an amazing raspberry brioche from Sara's Petite Cuisine.

And don't get me started on the Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) which are almost certainly the best in the universe.

The town has 2-metre markers on the pavements and chalk markings around serving hatches denoting the 'sweet spot' for service. We soon found the spectacular fish display in the Salutation Inn and even took home some fresh prawns suitably packed in ice.

But strangely enough, after all of that fresh air, a siesta beckons this afternoon.

It's not so surprising though. We were up until 3am this morning share-watching the Smash theatre show, which was beamed to our TV from Broadway via HBO and The People. We all decided it felt quite like going to the theatre, except the G+Ts were less expensive.

It's the first time I've ever seen George the RoboVac going about its scheduled 2 am cleaning chores